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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION,
Washington, January 19, 1931. Hon. W. C. HAWLEY, Chairman Committee on Ways and Means,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR CONGRESSMAN: Your letter of June 30, 1930, requests the Tariff Commission to obtain information in regard to the coal industry of Russia, with special reference to the provisions of section 307 of the tariff act of 1930, which prohibits the importation of commodities produced by convict, forced, or indentured labor under penal sanctions.
Because of existing conditions the investigation has been confined to an examination of published reports and records available in Washington in regard to labor and other conditions in the coal industry of Soviet Russia.
The information which the commission has been able to obtain is submitted in the attached memorandum. Very truly yours,
HENRY P. FLETCHER, Chairman.
THE ANTHRACITE COAL INDUSTRY OF SOVIET RUSSIA
INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
Soviet Russia in recent years has entered as a competitor in the world coal markets. Her total exports of coal amounted to 726,000 tons in 1928–29. Russian exports of coal to the United States consist of anthracite from the Donetz coal fields near the Black Sea. A small amount of anthracite coal has regularly been imported into the United States in recent years—mainly from the United Kindgom. During the 7-year period from 1922 to 1928 the average annual importation of anthracite coal was 336,000 tons-none of which came from Russia. The United States production of anthracite is in the neighborhood of seventy-five to eighty million tons per year.
The importation of Russian anthracite into the United States began in 1929, and amounted in that year to 113,170 tons, valued at $737,176. In the first 10 months of 1930, similar imports were 147,139 tons, valued at $1,039,570. Nearly all the Russian anthracite enters through the customs districts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The ocean-freight rate to New England seaports upon Russian coal is now about $3.15 per ton. The rail rate upon Pennsylvania anthracite to Boston is $4.28 and is higher to northern New England points.
Any close comparison of the cost of production or the prices of domestic and soviet coal is impracticable, because of the uncertain value of the Russian currency in terms of the dollar. The Soviet Government completed in 1924 a reorganization of the Russian currency on' a gold basis and until 1926 the ruble might have been converted at par (51.46 cents). From 1926 on, however, the soviet ruble has fallen below par in exchange for American and other stable currencies. The par value of the ruble can, therefore, not now be used for conversion. Such actual exchange values of the ruble as are available are also not a correct criterion of its gold value. The ruble is not bought and sold on the regular public exchanges of European countries or of the United States, and on the private or so-called Black exchanges in some countries bordering on Russia, its value is affected by the fact that its reentry into Russia is forbidden by soviet law.
As to the question whether in the production of coal for export the Soviet Government employs forced labor, the Tariff Commission has necessarily been confined to an examination of soviet labor laws and regulations available in Washington. As a result of this examination, it has been found that measures have recently been taken for the recruiting of workers for the coal mines in the Donetz Basin. It has also been ascertained that the Soviet Government has adopted a number of laws and other measures regarding laborers who leave
their employment. Moreover, applicants for employment are subject to certain disabilities if they refuse positions offered. The various measures adopted would presumably have a different significance in a society where industry and trade are mainly in private hands, from that which they possess in Soviet Russia where the great bulk of the manufacturing, mining, and transportation industries are in the hands of the Government.
None of the laws or regulations examined contains any specific provision to prevent a worker in the Government industries from returning to the farm or seeking employment in such private enterprises as may exist.
Bearing upon the question of possible Russian exports of anthracite coal, it may be pointed out that Russian industries, according to soviet publications, are now suffering from a severe shortage of coal. The soviet program of industrial expansion calls for a much larger home consumption of coal in the near future. Because of the distant location of Siberian reserves of coal, the demands upon the Donetz reserves will be very heavy. According to the soviet press, the expansion of coal production may be unequal to the industrial requirements of Soviet Russia. Even now the productive resources of the Donetz Basin appear to be taxed beyond their present capacity. The future development of coal exportation by Soviet Russia, however, can not be foretold.
I. RECRUITING OF LABORERS FOR THE DONETZ COAL FIELDS On September 7, 1930, the official daily of the Supreme Council of People's Economy of the Soviet Union contained an announcement with respect to recruiting several thousand workers for the Donetz coal fields. The translation of this article follows.
RECRUITING OF WORKERS FOR COAL MINES IN SOVIET RUSSIA (U. S. $. R.) 1
In accordance with the direction of the Council of Labor and Defense (STO) of the Soviet Union to recruit workers for the Donbass, the Commissars of Labor of the Soviet Union (U. S. S. R.) and of Soviet Russia (R. S. F. S. R.), the Supreme Council of People's Economy of the Soviet Union (U. S. S. R.), the Center of Collective Husbandry, the Central Committee of Miners and Agricultural Workers, the Central Committee of the All-Union Lenin Communist Union of Youth (V. L. K. S. O.), and the united "Ugol" (united Soviet trust in charge of coal mining in the Donetz Basin) have informed the respective organizations under them of the necessity of recruiting 55,000 workers for the coal mines of the Donetz Basin ("Donbass”) and of the delivery of these workers at the mines not later than October 1, 1930. Out of the total number 5,000 must
be farm hands, 20,000 members of the Communist Youth, and 20,000 "Kolkhozniks” (farm hands from the collective farms).
For the prompt fulfillment of this plan of recruiting and delivering workers at the coal mines the labor offices are responsible. Without delay all People's Com, missars of Labor of the Union and Autonomous Republics and also all provincial and district labor offices, together with the offices of the “kolkhoz" (collective unions of mine workers and agricultural workers must prepare republican and farm) system, of the "konsomol” (Communist youth organizations), of the provincial plans of recruiting workers.
To assist in recruiting and sending workers to the Donbass the united “Ugol” has placed 100 workers at the disposal of the labor offices.
The united “Ugol” and the offices of the mines must immediately take all necessary measures to receive and place the recruited workers, paying special attention to the provision of adequate housing.
1 Translation of article in Za Industrializatsiiu (For Industrialization) Sept. 7, 1930, p. 1. (Official daily of the Supreme Council of People's Economy of the Soviet Union (Ú. S. S. Ř.)).
The labor offices and all other organizations taking part in the recruiting of workers must expedite the delivery and placement of workers. Soviet public opinion should be directed to the recruiting and delivery of workers to the Donbass.
For the fulfillment of the plan the following are personally responsible: People's Commissars of Labor of the United and Autonomous Republics, directors of the provincial seetions of labor offices, chairmen of the “Kolkhoz" (collective farms) centers and Kolkhoz union, chairmen of the union of miners and of agricultural forestry workers, secretaries of the provincial and district communist organizations of the All-Union Lenin Communist Union of Youth, and the managers of the mines.
The workers brought to the Donbass shall receive transportation expenses and 2.50 rubles for food a day from the day of their recruiting up to the day of beginning work in the coal mines.
The workers brought to the mining establishments must work in the mines not
Regulations were promulgated on September 25, 1930, an account of which is given in Russian Economic Notes, as follows: 2
A measure which will tend to prevent the shifting of labor is the resolution passed recently by the Commissariat for Labor, the Supreme Economic Council, and the All-Union Central Council of Cooperative Societies, according to which the administration of factories and other economic organizations is to enter in the pay books of individual workmen the reasons for their dismissal. These notations must cover all possible reasons, such as: By workman's own request, termination of contract, inability to do the work, absenteeism, etc. If, owing to the short duration of employment the workmen do not have a pay book, the reasons for leaving the job are to be stated on a special memorandum that is to be handed to the man when he leaves. The men in charge of employment are to interview the men who express a desire to leave, and if the complaints are reasonable, the factory administration should comply with the workmen's requests so as to retain them. The employment bureaus are forbidden to register applicants for jobs who do not have a statement of the reasons for leaving their last job. Persons who have left on their own initiative, or have been discharged for breach of labor discipline are to be registered by the labor bureaus on special lists; these men are not to be given unemployment doles and are to have the last choice in obtaining jobs. The economic organizations to which these workmen are assigned should be specially notified that the men sent to them have been discharged for breach of labor discipline or are known to have quit their jobs without approved reasons. The personnel departments of the economic organizations are instructed to act in the same way as the employment bureaus.
A decree promulgated by the Labor Commissariat of the Soviet Union on October 11, 1930, reads in part as follows: 3
1. In view of the insufficiency of labor in all branches of the national economy, the State Insurance Department henceforth will give no unemployment pay except in cases of physical disability.
2 Russian Economic Notes No. 104, Oct. 31, 1930, p. 4, translated from "Za Industrializatziiu" (Sept. 25, 1930). Russian Economic Notes consists
of translations and digests of publications of the Soviet Government and of the semiofficial Russian Press, Russian Economic Notes are prepared by the Russian Division in the United States Department of Commerce.
3 A decree of the l.abor Commissariat of the Soviet Union, October 11, 1930. Izvestia (Organ of the Cen tral Executive Committee of the Soviets of the U. S. S. R., and of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets), Oct. 11, 1930, p. 4.